Senior Policy Fellow
Areas of expertise
German foreign and defence policy; technology and geopolitics; UAVs/drones; artificial intelligence; military technology
French, English, German
Dr. Ulrike Franke is a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR). She leads ECFR’s Technology and European Power initiative. Her areas of focus include German and European security and defence, the future of warfare, and the impact of new technologies such as drones and artificial intelligence on geopolitics and warfare.
Franke has published widely on these and other topics, among others in Die Zeit, FAZ, RUSI Whitehall Papers, Comparative Strategy, War on the Rocks, Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik, and regularly appears as commentator in the media. She co-hosts the Sicherheitshalber Podcast, a German-language podcast on security and defence.
She holds a PhD in International Relations from the University of Oxford – in her PhD thesis, she studied the use of drones by western armed forces. She also holds a BA from Sciences Po Paris and a double summa cum laude MA degree from Sciences Po Paris (Affaires internationales/Sécurité internationale) and the University of St. Gallen (International Affairs and Governance).
Franke is a policy affiliate at the Governance of AI project at Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute. She was also part of UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counterterrorism Ben Emmerson’s research team, examining drone use in counterterrorism contexts. Prior to this she worked as a part-time research assistant at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) in London.
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Military Robots and Drones”, Routledge Handbook of Defence Studies, 2018
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Germany charts its place in the world, but struggles to adapt to changing realities”, War on the Rocks, February 2018
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Flying IEDs: The next big threat?”, War on the Rocks, October 2016
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Proliferated Drones. A Perspective on Germany”, Center for a New American Security, 2016
- Franke, Ulrike E., Mark Leonard, “A Global survey of economic coercion”, in: The Age of Economic Coercion, World Economic Forum, White Paper, 2016
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Automatisierte und autonome Systeme in der Militär- und Waffentechnik“, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), 35-36/2016
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Civilian Drones: Fixing an Image Problem?” CSS Zürich, January 2015
- Franke, Ulrike E., “The global diffusion of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or ‘drones‘“, in: Aaronson et al (ed.) Precision-Strike Capabilities and International Intervention, Routledge, 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E. and Alexander Leveringhaus, “Militärische Robotik“, in: Jäger (Hrs.) Handbuch Sicherheitsgefahren, Springer: 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Drone Proliferation: A Cause for Concern?”, International Relation and Security Network(ISN), ETH Zurich, 13 November 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Armed Drones? Jein! Germany’s Qualified Decision for Armed UAVs”, ISN, 8 August 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E., “The Flawed German Debate on Armed Drone Acquisition: “What Does This Have to Do with Our Procurement Plans, for God’s Sake?”, ISN, 20 June 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E., “U.S. Drones are from Mars, Euro Drones are from Venus”, War on the Rocks, 19 May 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Drones, Drone Strikes, and US-policy. The politics of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles,” US War College Quarterly, Parameters, 44.1, Spring 2014
- Franke, Ulrike E., Which Drone Suits Me Best? Germany’s Difficult Decision to Procure an Armed ‘Unmanned Aerial Vehicle’“, Zeitschrift für Außen- und Sicherheitspolitik, 6.4, Oct. 2013
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Verbreitung von unbemannten Flugzeuge für den militärischen Gebrauch“, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (APuZ), 37/2013
- Franke, Ulrike E., “Drone Wars”, Commentary and Reply, US War College Quarterly, Parameters, 43.2
- Franke, Ulrike E. “A tale of stumbling blocks and road bumps –Germany’s (non-) Revolution in Military Affairs,“ Comparative Strategy, 31.4
- Franke, Ulrike E., “The Five Most Common Media Misrepresentations of UAVs”, in: Michael Aaronson and Adrian Johnson (ed.) Whitehall Report 2-13, RUSI, March 2013
- Franke, Ulrike E. “Politik studieren und Plakate kleben”, Internationale Politik, Januar/Februar 2013
Criticisms of PESCO could equally be applied to Germany’s broader security and defence policy
All you need to know to follow the German election unfold on Sunday night
The televised debates sum up Germany's election campaign perfectly: they have been strangely devoid of proposals, and filled with reactiveness
For the rest of the summer Mark Leonard will be breaking from the usual World in 30 Minutes format to talk about how the global…
When people hear the word ‘drones’, they think of targeted killings and the United States. They picture the “Predator” or the “Reaper”, the world’s most…
Edited by Ulrike Esther Franke, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil & Susi Dennison
New technologies are a significant force shaping international relations. If the EU wants to be more than a mediator between the US and China, it will need to change its mindset.
The EU’s work on its Strategic Compass should include debates on the special status states’ future role in European defence
Artificial intelligence is a rapidly advancing field that policymakers everywhere are struggling to keep up with
The EU cannot continue to rely on its regulatory power but must become a tech superpower in its own right. Referees do not win the game.
The EU Coalition Explorer survey reveals the importance of Germany and France within the EU, and the impact they can have when they cooperate with each other
Failing to coordinate properly in the AI area could threaten future European defence cooperation, including PESCO and the European Defence
The EU appears to be largely uninterested in AI’s geopolitical importance, but its member states can only influence the global development of AI if they act tog
If Europe does not address these difficult questions soon it will find itself surrounded by more powerful rivals deploying AI against it
Polls and interviews conducted for the paper indicate that German millennials are surprisingly conservative and liable to status quo bias
Why migration, finance and trade are the geo-economic battlegrounds of the future
The parties in Germany’s next coalition government could find it hard to bridge their differences on foreign and defence policy
Hand-wringing over Europe’s supposed failure to step up in Afghanistan ignores the fact that Europeans were principally there to support the US
Technological change is already having far-reaching effects on the international balance of power. If the EU is to become a true geopolitical actor, it cannot shy away from these challenges
The election of a new CDU party leader last weekend might be the first step towards a novel Black-Green coalition government – whose defence policy could be surprisingly visionary, if the parties are willing to work together
The UK will have to decide how involved it wants to be in EU defence efforts. It seems likely that the country’s aim will be to have flexible structures that allow it to plug into European foreign and defence policy where doing so is in its interests.
France and Germany have different priorities, but both partners come to the same conclusion: Europe must do more
This could be the moment to build a more balanced transatlantic relationship, with Europeans showing the US where we need it to engage, and how – rather than simply waiting for cues from Washington
It is ill-advised for Germany to be complacent on common European defence – especially at a moment when the country holds the presidency of the Council of the EU
Just as they have on the economic recovery, Berlin and Paris must overcome their differences and present a courageous plan to create a Europe that takes decisive geopolitical action
This year’s Munich Security Conference showed once again that just two players will fight the global battle over tech. And guess who’s missing.
The EU can overcome the new challenges it faces and can shape the global order. To achieve this, Europeans will need to improve their joint capacity to act.
European cohesion is bouncing back after crisis years. The EU Cohesion Monitor presents new insights on cohesion as an underestimated source of strength and collective action in the EU.
The Coalition Explorer illustrates the expert opinions of more than 800 respondents who work on European policy and creates a visual understanding of the views held by Europe’s professional political class
The European Solidarity Tracker collects and displays instances of pan-European solidarity throughout the coronavirus crisis
To fulfil its true potential, the EU needs to end its strategic cacophony and focus on capability building
Great power competition is increasingly shaping Europeans’ security environment, while other security threats are also on the rise, from terrorism and cyber attacks to climate change
Edited by Ulrike Esther Franke, Manuel Lafont Rapnouil & Susi Dennison
What are the necessary steps the new German government needs to take to advance and support European tech sovereignty?
The Covid-19 pandemic has shaken the EU’s conception of order and exposed a gap between European aspirations and actions. Firstly, Europeans are confronted with the…
In this week’s episode, Mark Leonard presents the new and third edition of ECFR´s Coalition explorer, which also included special questions regarding the impact of…
Word on the street seems to suggest that technology will be the way out of the coronavirus crisis and the lockdowns in many European countries. This…
The annual Munich Security Conference was themed “Westlessness”, defining “a widespread feeling of uneasiness and restlessness in the face of increasing uncertainty about the enduring purpose…
Podcast de notre discussion du 5 mars « Défense européenne : le couple franco-allemand au pied du mur » en présence d'Ulrike Esther…
Deutsch-französische Zusammenarbeit im Bereich der europäischen Verteidigungsindustrie || La coopération franco-allemande dans le domaine de l’industrie européenne de la défense
Deutsch-französische Debatte zu Rüstungskooperation im Kontext strategischer Autonomie | Un évènement franco-allemand dans le domaine de l’industrie de défense, pour la construction d’une autonomie stratégique
Der Checkpoint EXTRA findet als Kooperation zwischen der bpb und dem Berliner Büro des European Council on Foreign Relations statt
First part of a series jointly organised by the European Movement International and ECFR exploring the challenges the European Union is facing
An Oxford-style debate in cooperation with Intelligence² Germany
A discussion workshop on the impact of Artificial Intelligence on geopolitics and warfare, and how Europe and the US can work together for everyone’s benefit